Saturday, June 09, 2007

Gates Challenges Grads -Sweeney Goads Retirees

The world's biggest philanthropist urges Harvard graduates to use their intellects and the Internet to overcome complexities in tackling global inequities in health, wealth and education. Surprisingly, he does not suggest to these business school graduates that wealth creation is the surest way to give back to society. And, inexplicably he does not exhort them to help resolve America's chief domestic problems: drugs and guns.

Regardless of whether you, the reader, is still a student or a recent graduate, take time to ponder what Bill says. Sure, pressures on students and grads are heavy, but a little extra-curricular effort researching
a complex problem outside the immediate area of specialization brings its own rewards.
Let old Bill and young turks tackle global problems. Actually, the greatest squandering of intellectual resources is with retiring baby-boomers; this is the cohort who have spent 30 to 40 years honing analytical, business, trades and communicative skills. Rather than lament the loss of usefulness, take the opportunity to balance domestic chores, golf, and travel with community engagement. Earlier retirement, exercise and excellent medical care -together with a little productive work -results in a more satisfying and longer life.
But, how many retiring professional and business leaders will use their time, talents and perspectives to benefit their city and region? How many will use their intellects in networking with locals to attack & solve local problems?
1. Determine the goal.
2. Identify the highest-leveraged approach.
3. Discover the ideal technology for such approach.
4. Make smartest application of existing technology.

People in their 60s and beyond need productive relationships. Discovering and implementing needed solutions to intractable problems gives purpose and structure to retirement work that matters.
The Test:
Where's that collaborative can-do & will-do spirit?
Do retiring Londoners have the creative spark to launch Think & Do Tank(s)?

If you think you might be able to contribute, read short FastCompany Magazine's handbook on forming city cells. A shorter version of this post appears on the FastCompany web site in conjunction with the launch of a London cell.
If you retired in south-west Ontario and any of this pushed your button, let's connect.
1. Investigate, staff, and fund a shop for wannabe innovators who need facilities and tools to develop their product ideas. One model:
2. Steal an innovation by the mayor of Curitiba, Brazil to increase bus ridership by using bus tickets in local lottery.